Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Growing Autumn Bouquets.

Once upon a time, when I nervously signed the mortgage for my first house, I didn't rush to Pottery Barn or Crate and Barrel. Drapes that puddled perfectly on the floor or bird cages filled with plastic plants or funky plates with funky linens weren't on my wish list to make my new house homey.

Instead, I spent every bit of disposable income supporting local nurseries.

camellia, http://growingdays.blogspot.com
For me, the happiness of becoming a homeowner meant that I'd finally, finally have a garden. Of course, I wanted a lovely, lushly landscaped garden--but its primary purpose was to fill my new home with fresh flowers. Never again would I wait for someone to bring me a sad, tired vase of ugly red roses. (Please note: this was pre-Peter. He possesses great taste in flowers.)

Honestly, is there anything nicer than a just-picked, fresh-from-the-garden, cheerful bouquet of flowers to make a home feel warm and vibrant? 

No. No, there's not. Well, OK, kids and significant others and furry babies are also high up on the list, too. The smell of apple pie baking also helps. Still, flowers will always be right up there in their ability to make a blah Wednesday feel like a celebration. Plus, as much as I love fresh flowers in our home, I love sharing them even more. It's pure happiness to watch a friend receive a bouquet, because flowers make every day a little brighter.  

Lately, though, I've spent more time obsessing about growing edibles to feed my family than remembering why I originally loved gardening. Plus, it's November. The garden looks...uninspiring. It's easy to snip some tulips in spring or arrange tea roses in summer. In fact, I planned a cutting garden for spring and fall blooms, which you can read about here. In fall, though, my attention turns to seed catalogs and bulb orders. I know it's trendy to proclaim fall as everyone's favorite season, but for me? Nope. No, thank you. Bring back my sunshine and pretty spring blooms, pronto.

So, when the fearless leader of You Can Grow That!, C.L. Fornari, challenged our group of garden bloggers to write about giveaway bouquets, I pushed aside my seasonal affective disorder and took a stroll around the garden to see if I could find anything--anything remotely attractive or alive--that would contribute to a bouquet.

Surprisingly, I returned with arms full of material. 

making autumn bouquets, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

camellias, berries, autumn fern, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

autumn bouquets, hosts, aucuba, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

Our camellias, hidden on the south side of the house, are heavy with blooms right now. Sadly, I tend to forget about them, because they aren't along the path I normally take to the kitchen garden. I plan to propagate some of these beauties and plant them in a more visible section of the garden, because they are the perfect fall flower.

camellia, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

camellia, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

viburnum, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

The viburnum, however, continues to produce a spectacular, eye-catching show all fall. During spring, these two bushes brighten the back garden with their enormous blooms. While fall blooms aren't nearly as prolific, I still found plenty of flowers, although they were beginning to look a bit tired.

Because blooms are scarce during November, foliage needed to play an important part of the bouquet design. Fortunately, we have lots of variegated vines, hostas, and ferns. Even 'Gold Dust' aucuba participated in the November bouquet project.

foliage, http://growingdays.blogspot.com, variegated ivy

Herbs and berries also made an appearance in the bouquets. While I intended to use bronze fennel, some little creature had eaten most of it. Instead, the airy branches of Florence fennel added a frothy texture, as well as height, to an arrangement. Encore azaleas, a bloom that I never considered for bouquets prior to our assignment, was also added to the mix.

fall bouquet, fennel, gold dust aucuba, Encore azaleas, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

After I cleaned the foliage from the bottom portion of the stems and sorted the cuttings, I realized that I'd gathered enough materials to make not one but three bouquets.
all bouquet, camellia, autumn fern, variegated ivy, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

Pale pink camellias, viburnum, autumn ferns and variegated ivy.
camellias, viburnum, fern, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

Japanese anemone, camellias, berries, http://growingdays.blogspot.com
Seed heads from Japanese anemone, camellias, Hearts-A-Bustin' berries, 
and variegated potato vine.

Hearts-A-Bustin berries, cammellias, potato vine, http://growingdays.blogspot.com
Encore azalea, fennel, Gold Dust aucuba, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

Encore azalea blooms, 'Gold Dust' aucuba, and Florence fennel.

Encore azalea, fennel, Gold Dust aucuba, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

Fall bouquets, http://growingdays.blogspot.com

My bouquet making skills need more practice, but it inspired me to remember my first garden and the passion I had--for flowers. Of course, I'll continue obsessing about our edible gardens and native plants, but I'll also keep searching throughout all seasons to bring the garden inside and share it with friends.

What flowers do you enjoy receiving in your favorite bouquets?




  1. In my next life, I hope to be as fabulously talented with growing things as you are! You amaze me!

  2. Great bouquets Julie! I love the idea of using ferns and camellias this time of year, as well as the other lovelies from your garden. Grow Camellias Grow!!!!

  3. Hi Julie, I am trying to visit all the bloggers that have signed up as followers on my blog, now it’s time to visit your lovely blog – lots of interesting things to read here, think I need to come back a rainy afternoon when my garden isn’t tugging me to come outside! Your flower bouquets are lovely, and your choice of flowers and greens are great. Whenever I see camellias at this time of year I long for my own to hurry up, but I have a spring flowering camellia so it is months from flowering yet, usually it starts in February or March. As for favourite flowers? Easy to say, lilies! I have around 150 lilies in my garden and I add to them every year, but it’s a short season and I would have loved to have lilies in my house every week of the year :-)